The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has welcomed the Australian Greens’ decision to introduce the Stolen Generations Reparations Bill 2008 into the Senate today.
The Greens Bill is modelled on draft legislation that PIAC and the Australian Human Rights Centre submitted to a Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry in June this year and seeks to implement the recommendations contained in PIAC’s 2001 report, Restoring Identity, which was the result of PIAC’s consultations with Indigenous people around Australia.
In response to the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 1997 Bringing them home report and to provide an alternative to litigation, PIAC developed a proposal for a Stolen Generations Reparation Tribunal.
This proposal was endorsed by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s 2000 Inquiry into the implementation of recommendations made in Bringing them home.
In welcoming the tabling of the Bill today, PIAC’s CEO, Robin Banks said, ‘Many individuals with whom PIAC consulted stated that no amount of money could effectively compensate those who suffered harm. While monetary redress does offer recognition of the harm suffered and some immediate financial support, PIAC argues that a mechanism distinctly shaped by the needs of the Stolen Generations is put in place to redress past harm and create measures of reparation that offer enduring social, cultural and economic benefits to those affected’.
The Senate’s latest report said that a Reparations Tribunal model might provide a valuable framework for consideration in the development of a reparations scheme, however, the Senate Inquiry’s recommendations avoided the question of compensation and reparation in favour of establishing a National Indigenous Healing Fund.
‘The notion of a Healing Fund is ambiguous. A National Reparations Tribunal would help address the damage of the policy of child removal. It is only sensible that a Reparations Tribunal should include monetary compensation. Indigenous people have waited long enough for a political solution. The Federal Government and the Opposition should support the Bill and give real depth and meaning to the Prime Minister’s apology to the Stolen Generations’, Ms Banks added.
To view PIAC’s submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry go to https://piac.asn.au/publication/2008/04/080410-piac-stolengens
Restoring Identity is at https://piac.asn.au/publication/2009/07/rireportfinal
MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169